Reclaiming Reason from Atheism

by Dr. Katie Galloway

Does atheism have a true monopoly on reason? In my conversations with nonbelievers, I’ve found that probing deeper into the atheistic worldview exposes a key weakness in that perspective and provides an opportunity to demonstrate Christianity’s solid footing in reason.

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
— Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 423 / 277.

When I ask my unbelieving friends “Why are you an atheist?” they generally respond with something like “Because there is no God”. I ask them to dig a little deeper to answer my original question.

Generally, a diatribe against religion emerges. Believers are accused of being a bunch of hypocrites who oppress people with their rules while religions are painted in broad strokes as ridiculous superstitions and crutches for weak-minded people. Many claim that belief in God is irrational. From my experience, the atheist asserts that humanity has evolved beyond these irrational impulses and structures, now seeing religion for the garbage it is.

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My next question is, “Okay, but why choose atheism?”

After all, a lack of faith comes with distinct disadvantages. For example, studies show that people with no faith are more likely than their religious counterparts to suffer from depression and to commit suicide.[1] Besides that (or perhaps at the root of that), atheism doesn’t provide any sense of meaning or purpose for life because everything will end with total annihilation.

Even if atheists argue that we can assign meaning to our lives, once the Sun burns out and the universe goes to heat death what is left? What will be the purpose of striving to not believe in superstition? What will be the purpose of helping other people? Why not just spend all your time throwing pebbles into the sea instead? In the end, such an activity will mean as much as the greatest acts of philanthropy. Pragmatically, wouldn’t it be better to be deluded and happy for this brief, meaningless time?

Nonbelievers often answer that they choose atheism because it’s true. Further, pragmatism is not a good test for truth, which I concede. But is truth really worth possibly sacrificing health, happiness, and meaning? Here some opinions diverge, but most atheists would say that truth is of the utmost importance in dictating their worldview…

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